Words: Jakki Jones
Going back to work after a year off has been surprisingly challenging. Not because I don’t love my job – far from it. I just underestimated how I’d feel about becoming a mum, and how hard the reality of leaving my baby would be.
I thought I would flick a switch and be able to forget (or at least park) my mum duties, then pick them up later when I got home, without feeling conflicted or emotionally vulnerable. In reality, I feel like a snowglobe that has been tipped upside down and shaken.
When I was pregnant with Riley, I was scared of leaving work. The feeling of being out of control and heading into the unknown world of motherhood was really daunting. Yet despite being nervous, motherhood has been the best life experience I’ve had to date. Yes, I’ve missed work, but I’ve relished a year off with my daughter and seeing her reach all those milestones.
But when 2017 raced around, fear set in. Eight weeks before I was due back at my desk, I was having sleepless, teary nights about the transition – made worse by the fact that I still needed to find our version of Mary Poppins.
In January, I thought I’d won the lottery – I found a wonderful nanny who came recommended to me by a friend. What could go wrong? She bonded with my daughter and seemed like a mini version of me – I couldn’t have been happier. I moved her into my flat near our home – I had it all planned out. She would become an extension of our family. Everything was going swimmingly and I felt ready to return to the office at last.
Leaving Riley that first morning back was emotional – but OK. She waved goodbye to me and I had a little cry on the District line before whacking on my Prada sunglasses, getting a flat white and strolling confidently over London Bridge. I felt weirdly empowered. It was a great feeling to be back and I had an amazing first day catching up with my team. The nanny couldn’t have been better and kept in touch all day with messages, photos and updates.
My luck, however, ran out that evening. After waving the nanny off, she called me an hour later, crying. What had happened? Unbelievably, she told me she felt unhappy and she quit, blaming tiredness and questioning a career change.
After a beautiful first day back, I spent the night in tears and on the phone to my boss, telling him I wouldn’t be in for the rest of the week. You couldn’t have made it up!
So, I’m back to the drawing board. I’ll admit I feel stressed, but I’m reminding myself that every working mum faces these challenges. It’s not easy finding the ‘perfect’ solution. So here I am at my laptop, trying to find a replacement. This is the most important recruitment process of my life.
Life’s never simple, is it?